Fact sheet: Hexachloroethane

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

Discover a list of a contaminant's important chemical properties, how it will react in the environment, main sources of contamination related, and a brief overview of health and safety issues.

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General information

CAS number


Molecular formula


Formula weight

236.7 g/mol


Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAH)

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point 187 0CSolid
Relative density2.09Sinks in water
Vapour pressure0.5 mm HgLow volatility
Vapour density8.2Denser than air
Solubility in water50 mg/LLow solubility
Henry's law constant6 x 10-3 atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)Strong adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, hexachloroethane is a solid with low volatility. Characterized by low solubility, it will volatilize rapidly once dissolved and adsorbs strongly to organic matter. When present in soil, this compound will volatilize slowly and solubilize slowly. Once dissolved, it will either enter into the groundwater table or migrate towards a waterway, where it will be diluted, before rapidly volatilizing. Adsorbed hexachloroethane will take a very long time to disappear, being released in its gaseous or dissolved forms. The resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively small in size.

Health and safety

Hexachloroethane should be handled with care as it is toxic.

Principal resources

Hexachloroethane is not a naturally occurring compound. It is produced by the chlorination of tetrachloroethene, or as a by-product of the industrial production of other chlorinated hydrocarbons. Hexachloroethane can also be formed when materials containing chlorinated hydrocarbons are incinerated.

The industrial use hexachloroethane was once quite extensive but is currently diminishing. One of its main uses is in metal and alloy production, mainly as degassing pellets to remove the air bubbles during aluminum alloy refining. It is also used to remove impurities from molten metals, recovering metals from ores or smelting products and improving the quality of various metals and alloys. Large amounts of hexachloroethane are also used by the military. Hexachloroethane, when mixed with zinc, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide, is commonly used to produce military smoke munitions (example, candles and grenades used to generate "smoke" or "fog") and pyrotechnics.

Other applications for hexachloroethane include its addition to combustible liquids as an ignition suppressant, as a component of fire extinguishing fluids, and as a polymer additive in a variety of applications. It has also been used in fungicidal and insecticidal formulations, and was once prescribed for de-worming animals (sheep). Other uses, in limited quantities, are as a component of submarine paints and extreme pressure lubricants.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1997. Toxicological Profile for Hexachloroethane. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA. (Viewed March 2010)

National Toxicology Program. 2005. Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition: Substance Profile of Hexachloroethane. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, USA.(PDF, 325KB) (Viewed March 2010)

Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, USA.

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